Fifteen Vietnamese provinces have met the criteria for announcing an end to bird flu outbreaks in their territory, reducing the number of affected provinces nationwide to six, according to a local animal health agency Friday.
Thirteen northern provinces, a central province and a southern province have detected no new outbreaks for at least three weeks, meeting the criteria, said the Department of Animal Health under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Now, 15 communes in six provinces -- the four northern provinces of Ninh Binh, Ha Giang, Yen Bai and Cao Bang, and the two provinces of Nghe An and Quang Tri -- are still facing bird flu outbreaks.
Since Oct. 1, 21 cities and provinces of Vietnam have been hit by bird flu, which has killed and led to the forced killing of nearly 4 million fowls, the department said.
The Vietnamese government has recently instructed the agriculture and healthcare sectors to make greater efforts so that the country will see no bird flu outbreaks among poultry and humans next year.
Vietnam is expected to have an international standard laboratory by June 2006 at the latest. The future laboratory, to be run by the country's National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology, is eligible for isolating, testing and researching live bird flu viruses of H5N1 like laboratories of the World Health Organization, according to local newspaper Youth on Friday.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency is expected to fund the lab's construction to the tune of more than 8 million U.S. dollars, the newspaper said.